Our friend Predrag B. Tomasevic managed to grab some time with ALTAR interactive's Jiri
Rydl, as he talks about UFO: Aftermath, their upcoming strategy game which should be a
spiritual successor to the legendary X-COM. UFO: Aftermath combines global strategy
with small squad tactical combat in the fight against an alien invasion. It features
run-time generated tactical missions, completely in 3D, with innovative simultaneous
action combat, strong RPG elements and strategy game on the planetary level.
Predrag B. Tomasevic: Hello Jiri. First of all, introduce yourself and
the company you are working for, to readers of Gameguru
Jiri Rydl: Hello, Predrag. I am Jiri Rydl, the Public
Relations manager for ALTAR interactive, which is the sister company of ALTAR publishing.
So far, we have developed Fish Fillets, a puzzle game, and Original War, a RTS, and now we
are working on UFO: Aftermath (previously called Freedom Ridge).
PBT: Ok, we are talking about UFO: Aftermath. Tell us a
bit about it in general; like what is idea, setting and main features of game.
JR: UFO: Aftermath is a tactical squad based game about
fighting off an alien invasion. The story begins with a wholesale planetary massacre, when
an alien spaceship kill almost every living thing, including plants, animals and humans,
on the planet via spores released into the atmosphere. You are one of the survivors,
trying to fight back against the unknown enemy from space. Victory can only be achieved
via the combination of research, huge firepower, and strong tactics.
The game itself is partly strategic occupying territories,
researching and shooting down UFOs - and partly tactical close combat in destroyed
cities, rescuing people, recovering alien artifacts, and re-conquering the Earth by
killing mutants. The tactical game should take up around seventy percent of game time.
PBT: Aftermath is going to be a kind a spiritual
successor of legendary X-COM. Is it hard to do some quality development when you know how
many X-COM fans are out there waiting to see your game?
JR: It is a great responsibility to develop any game so
long awaited, but as we have said on our message board, it is a completely original game
with several aspects that might remind you of some older titles. We incorporate these
things because we have been inspired by these older games, and that is all. We always draw
the best ideas from others to develop something even better. And Im not just
speaking about games, but all of the media (books, movies, comics, etc.) from which we
draw inspiration as a development house.
PBT: Looking for some facts of game I saw that you'll do
a 3D engine for a game and that it will allow changeable in-game world. Can you tell us
more on this subject? And how this will affect tactic component of Aftermath?
JR: We needed an engine capable of randomly generating
complete 3D missions, so we decided to develop our own. Its important for game play
that you dont know exactly what the combat area will look like, so the player must
deal with even more tactical problems, rather than relying on the memorization of a few
maps. You have just a limited number of soldiers and each of them has different skills, so
which ones will go on the next mission? Should you take the rocket launcher or not? Will
there be buildings or is it too far from a city? Every mission is different, and each is
determined by the geographical coordinates, the time, and the number of opponents. Every
area needs a different strategy to win. Buildings, ruins, alien spacecrafts, walls, boxes,
cars, trees, and many more items could help you hide and maneuver, but most of these items
can be destroyed and aliens know it, so beware!
PBT: Now, onto weapons - I'm interested in some stats
about those, which will find place in players arsenal. By the way, how many weapons will
there be anyway, and do you have your own favorite?
JR: There are several categories, such as revolvers,
rifles, machine guns, grenade launchers, and shotguns, more than forty different weapons
altogether for humans. On the other hand there are several biological and psi weapons used
by the aliens, and theyre much more dangerous. After winning some missions, you can
find alien weapons and research their killing abilities, so that you might be able to make
your own, improved, versions.
My favorite could be the jackhammer or one of the Heckler & Koch
rifles, but its too soon to tell :-].
PBT: And the bad guys, aliens? Are they going to be
something special or just an object on screen which purpose is to stand still while player
fills it with bullets, rockets...?
JR: Yes, the alien is just going to stand there like a
post while the player fills it with bullets :-]. Just kidding. The aliens will be smart
and deadly, employing various strategies and reacting realistically to events. They will
cooperate and try to attack at your weakest point. Take them lightly and you will lose
everything. Every member of your squad is unique, so losses will be hard to afford.
PBT: What's the current state of game? Will Freedom Ridge
be ready to go gold on Christmas 2002?
JR: You tell me :-]. We are working hard to get it done,
but there is still long road ahead.
PBT: UFO: Aftermath will be one of rare new-generation
games that utilizes turn-based system. In your opinion why there are so little turn-based
strategy games nowadays? Is it because gaming community doesn't give them needed
appreciation? Or because most of developers are occupied with real-time strategy games?
JR: We already did the real-time strategy game
Original War, so now its time for a turn based one :-]. The truth is, that we use
what we like the best. The special simultaneous turn based mode used in Aftermath combines
total control of every soldier, like in TB games, with the realistic battles from an RTS.
You can always pause it and give another order to your men, but when you un-pause,
everything is happening at the same time. So if youre slower than the alien, you
will likely lose. But even if you are slower, you can win by having better tactics!
PBT: If you had one or two sentences to convince people to
buy UFO: Aftermath, what would it sound like?
JR: My English is bad, but Ill try :-]: You are already dead, soldier, but
you can die with a gun in your hands. Die like a hero!
PBT: That's all folks. Jiri, I know that everyone says this at the
end of interview, but here it goes again - thanks for your time, I know that readers of
Gameguru are going to appreciate it. Lastly, is there anything you would like to add about
JR: We are working night and day to bring you the most exciting
game of the year and we are hungry for your ideas, because it is all for you, the players.
Please tell us what you think at: http://www.altarinteractive.com/ufo!